Bee City: A Kooky, Sweet Educational Film

Prelinger Archive
Prelinger Archive / Prelinger Archive

Bee City is an educational film from 1951. It's narrated by John Kieran, who seems like a very nice man, but also sounds like he's pretty much winging it. He has some knowledge of what's up with bees, but I get a clear sense from this film (and his other film work) that directors Paul F. Moss and Thelma Schnee just started rolling the picture, pointed at Kieran, and said: "Say some stuff about bees, man!" Wikipedia describes Kieran as, among others things, an "amateur naturalist."

I first wrote about Bee City back in 2007, when it was common party entertainment at my house. "Have a drink and watch this!" I'd say, queueing up the gems of the Prelinger Archive. Today, I hope you cuddle up with your sweetie (or a good beverage) and enjoy the bumbling bee narration of the sweet John Kieran. Here's a taste of actual narration I transcribed from early in the film:

"There's a grille in between, to keep the queen bee from, uh, going up and laying eggs, uh, in the, uh, honey storage place. That would spoil the honey. You see, the queen bee is much larger than the workers, so all you have to do is put down a grille that will let the workers through and, uh, keep the queen out, and your honey is, uh, pure."

My favorite part? When new stuff shows up in the film, Kieran is often caught slightly off-guard, but rolls with it. "And here's, uh, here's, uh, a bee that's in the ventilating system! It's waving its wings at the door to the hive to create a, uh, a breeze in the hive."